Washington Capitals fans have been going through the same agony over the past few seasons. Early postseason exits have unfortunately become common place in DC. The Caps have experienced much success in the regular season, only to see their dreams crushed early in the playoffs.
Despite the disappointment, fans continue to flock to Verizon Center for each game. In fact, that building has now become one of the loudest and toughest places to play in the NHL.
If the team wants that to continue, things are going to have to change. True fans will continue to support the team. However, fans that started following the team due to recent success will quickly move on if things do not change in the playoffs.
Capitals fans are no longer satisfied with just making the playoffs. People in DC now go into each season expecting to make a run at and win the Stanley Cup.
The Capitals have made the playoffs each of the last five years, never advancing beyond the second round. In 2009-2010, as the No. 1 seed, they were defeated by the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadians.
The 2010-2011 season also saw the Caps bounced out of the playoffs early as the No. 1 seed. They were swept in the second round by Tampa Bay.
Last season, things began to turn downward for the Caps. A midseason coaching change and coming dangerously close to missing the playoffs really had fans worried. Once again, the Caps exited in the second round of the playoffs.
This season has to end differently.
The Capitals have a lineup loaded with talent, including their star, Alex Ovechkin. On paper, they should be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, not to mention the entire NHL.
The Capitals enter 2012-2013 with a new coaching staff and a revamped lineup. Fans are once again excited for the prospects of the upcoming season.
However, that excitement can quickly change. If ownership wants to continue to have a successful franchise, the real winning must start now. Yes, Capitals fans are loyal, but their patience is running out. Anything other than a Stanley Cup Championship is now considered a failure.
The regular season does not really matter to fans anymore. Everyone knows the Caps can win from October to March. The only season that matters anymore is the one that begins in April.
Time will tell how things play out for the Caps this season. One thing is for sure: If there is a playoff failure yet again, the panic button will be hit in DC.
Making the playoffs is nice, but a Stanley Cup needs to be won sooner rather than later.